Imagine your alarm going off in the dead of the night. Your husband kicks you out of bed. You’re trying to stay quiet while brushing your teeth, filling water bottles, and shuffling out the door with knapsacks full of athletic gear, clean clothes, and work papers.
Waking up well before dawn is not easy. Or convenient. Or fun. It can be cold. Windy. You will get wet. The blisters on your hand will grow and your legs will ache all day. But sometimes, things happen that remind us why it’s worth hauling a 200-pound boat down to the water and striking out in the dark well before the rest of the world is awake.
1. Nature creates miracles in the dark
This week two magical events occurred that I was unable to photograph. Words will have to suffice.
First, on the Wednesday o’dark-thirty row, we were treated to the tail end of a meteor shower. In a the few minutes on land I was able to watch (because we rowed backwards to the point of origin), I saw about ten meteors streak along the Casey Key Library flood light like a guidepost. One trailed across half the sky before fizzling out–some thought it was an airplane until it darkened because it lasted so long. Others skipped like a stone across water, zig-zagging in their path. They dodged left and right through the field of bright stars.
As we carried the boat down the ramp and into the water, our splashing ignited the water. Every step created fireworks of phosphorescence. The brilliant beads of green exploded and faded just as quickly. We danced in place, in the water, trying to capture the phenomenon on film with no success.
2. Brilliant sunrises
The pictures speak for themselves.
3. Unique opportunities
I attended a writing retreat at Fallen Leaf Lake near Lake Tahoe in California last week. Before going, I investigated our lodge which featured a variety of water activities, but their rowboats showed the old-fashioned wide skiffs. I next tried to find rowing near Lake Tahoe–surely someone would have a rowing club there! Wrong! No rowing clubs in Nevada. I resigned myself to a weekend near water without rowing filled with plyometric exercises and hiking.
Our first day at the lodge, I took a walk with two fellow attendees. Along the road, hidden down a slope, I spied a rack of Maas Aeros. One query led to another and a few people pulled some strings. Thanks to them, I spent an hour in the afternoon rowing on a gorgeous alpine blue lake.
I never packed my dry bag, meaning I left my phone on shore. I have no pictures from resting in the middle of the clear lake, looking at rising ridges of snow-covered mountains in the distance, and the sandy bottom visible sixty feet below.
Definitely, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.